AT&T Internet Self-Installation Guide

by | Dec 22, 2016 | Brand Guides | 2 

You’ve made the decision to purchase AT&T Internet—now you just need to figure out how to set up the modem and activate your account. Read on to learn how to accomplish both tasks.  

How to Self-Install AT&T Internet

Setting up AT&T Internet yourself is simple and convenient. If you can find a phone outlet in a central location of your home, you can get the internet up and running in no time. If you choose to set up the internet connection yourself, follow the steps below to ensure a successful installation and activation.

1. Check the Equipment

If you elect to self-install, AT&T will ship a preferred modem, called a “Wireless Gateway,” along with other equipment and information to your home. Once you receive the box, open it and make sure it contains instructions, the modem, cables, cords, a power adapter, and a DSL filter.

2. Choose a Location

With your AT&T Internet box in hand, look for the best location in your home to set up the modem. You want a central spot, clear of obstructions such as cabinets and walls. It helps spread the internet signal throughout the home rather than closeting it within a room, which can lead to poor coverage in some areas of the home.

3. Connect the DSL Filter

If you already have home phone service, you’ll want to add a single- or double-port DSL filter to the line. It prevents signal interference between the internet and the telephone. If you do not already have home phone service, skip this step.   clq_phonejackconnection-att

4. Plug In the Data Cable

AT&T adds color codes to its modems and cables. The green cable, which transmits data, should be plugged in to the green phone port before being connected to the wall jack. With a double-port DSL filter, the green data cable should be plugged in to the filter’s empty slot.

5. Connect the Ethernet Cable

Next, run the yellow Ethernet cable from the yellow modem port to your computer’s Ethernet port. The computer’s port may or may not be color-coded. This step is necessary because initially AT&T Internet requires a hardwire setup. You can disconnect the cable after enabling Wi-Fi connectivity in a later step.

6. Prepare for Power

AT&T uses a two-part power cord. Connect the two pieces first, then plug the cord in to the modem and the adapter in to the electrical outlet.

7. Turn On the Power

Once you’ve plugged it in, your modem automatically turns on and begins to power all the connections. The broadband light will turn from a solid red to a solid green. At the same time, the service light should turn a solid green, and the local Ethernet light should blink green. If the broadband and service lights don’t turn green or the Ethernet light never blinks, refer to the troubleshooting section below.  

Hiring a Pro vs. Self Installing

Installing AT&T Internet differs if you’re using a professional installer; they will come to your home to connect the modem and internet service for you. Working with AT&T Internet professionals offers peace of mind, and they could hypothetically save you some time. After all, they work with modems and internet service day in and day out. However, that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for you. Here’s how to decide if working with the pros or going at it alone is the right option.  

Professional Installation

  • Expertise: With an AT&T Internet technician, you gain expertise and knowledge. They can also help you find the best place to set up the modem and router.
  • Flexibility: AT&T seeks to improve its installation service. You can easily check or change an installation appointment time online or by speaking with an AT&T representative.


  • Convenience: If you choose to self-install AT&T Internet, you experience the convenience of doing it whenever is best for you. You can set up the modem and internet service when it fits your schedule.
  • Personalization: With self-installation, you can change modem settings as you go along, creating an internet setup that’s perfect for your home and the people who live there.
  • Lack of Customization: An AT&T Internet professional won’t walk you through advanced customization. If you want internet that fits your household’s needs exactly, you likely will have to install the service yourself.
  • Time: Professional installation takes time. AT&T estimates that the average installation takes four hours to complete.
  • Responsibility: With self-installation, you hold the proverbial bag when things go wrong. You could end up on the phone with tech support or waiting for a technician to arrive.
  • Time: While the process usually takes no more than an hour, you still have to find the time—something that can be hard to do if you have kids or work long hours.

How to Set Up an Appointment with AT&T’s Installation Service

Typically, you select which AT&T installation service you want when placing your order for internet. If you change your mind and choose to work with a technician after choosing to self-install, you’ll want to call AT&T at 1 (800) 288-2020. You’ll need your order number and four-digit passcode to set up an appointment.  

How to Activate Your AT&T Internet Account

  1. If all the modem lights turned on in the initial step, open your preferred web browser. The registration process should begin automatically. If it doesn’t, type “” into the address bar.
  2. Next, input your four-digit passcode. If you didn’t keep a record of it when placing your order, check the mail. AT&T mails the passcode in a separate letter for your security and safekeeping.
  3. Once you activate your account, you can opt in to wireless connectivity. The process for setting that up is detailed in the next section.

How to Update Your Modem’s Settings

Regardless of whether you use the equipment provided by AT&T or one purchased from Amazon, you will want to update its settings. They secure your internet and Wi-Fi, keeping it safe from borrowing and hacking.
  1. Write down the Wi-Fi network name (SSID) and Wi-Fi password (Wireless Network Key). The default name and password can be found on the side or bottom of the modem.
  2. Configure your settings by going to the computer’s Wireless Network Settings. If nothing pops up in the window, refresh the list.
  3. Select your SSID from the list.
  4. Input your ten-digit passcode to connect to the wireless network.
  5. For extra security, change the default SSID name and passcode to something personal that you’ll remember.
  6. Save your new settings.
  7. Your devices can now securely connect to Wi-Fi. If you’re experiencing technical difficulties, follow the steps below.

How to Resolve Common Self-Installation Issues

Self-installing AT&T Internet may be simple, but that doesn’t mean it comes without challenges. When you experience issues with the installation, consult these handy tips—they should resolve them. If they don’t, call 1 (800) 280-2020 or visit AT&T’s support website for additional assistance.  

Problem: The indicator lights won’t turn on.

  1. Check that the cords and cables are snug in their ports, as they sometimes come loose.
  2. Next, make sure the cords and cables are plugged in to the appropriate ports and wall jacks. Green should connect to green, and yellow connect to yellow.

Problem: The internet connection is spotty.

  1. You could be encountering signal interference. If you have home phone service, add a DSL filter. If you don’t have home phone service but attached a DSL filter to the data cord, detach it. The filter can interrupt the signal.
  2. Check the cords and ports. The green data cable should run from the green data (phone) port on the modem to either the dual-port DSL filter or wall phone jack.
  3. Examine the phone jack. Interference sometimes comes from power strips integrated with a phone jack, so don’t plug the green data cord into one. Always plug it into a wall jack.

Problem: I can’t figure out what’s wrong.

  1. Have no fear! AT&T can help. If you managed to activate your account earlier, head to the AT&T site. Go to Support > Internet > Order & Repair Help > Troubleshoot Internet. The site logs you in automatically and runs a diagnostic.
  2. If you can’t access the internet, reboot the modem. The reboot cycles the modem through its settings, essentially purging it of bad connections and sources of interference.
  3. If the reboot doesn’t work and you can’t get online, call 1 (800) 280-2020 to request help from an AT&T technician.

Problem: I’m having trouble with the speed of my internet connection.

  1. Even with your modem set up correctly, you could experience latency. Usual culprits include the browser, add-ons, and network traffic.
  2. Check a different browser. It’s a weird but true fact that some browsers work better than others. Browsers also run slow if they haven’t been updated in a while. Update to the latest version and see if the lag disappears.
  3. Delete unnecessary add-ons. Plugins can make life a breeze or a living nightmare. Visit your browser’s settings to see which ones are slowing down the connection.
  4. Run a virus scan. Viruses can make your system operate slowly. You should regularly run virus scans, but especially when your computer seems to be acting unusual.
  5. Look at the equipment. Modems, like browsers, need updates. Make sure yours uses the latest hardware and software upgrades. If it’s more than three years old, it may be time to purchase a new one.

How to Purchase the Best AT&T Internet Modem

If you continue to have issues with your modem, it might be time to upgrade. Here are two of the highest rated modems compatible with AT&T.

Netgear AC1750

 Purchase on Amazon

Netgear’s product combines the modem and router, further simplifying installation. It also minimizes interference on Wi-Fi connections with its dual-band technology. This modem-router claims almost five stars on Amazon. Notable Features: This combined modem-router grows with your need for speed. It offers up to 680 Mbps download speeds and is CableLabs DOCSIS 3.0 certified, meaning it will work with a number of internet providers and plans.  

Motorola Cable Modem

Purchase on Amazon

Motorola’s modem might not boast all of Netgear’s bells and whistles, but it still packs a sizable punch at an affordable price point. Unfortunately, it isn’t integrated with a router. If you need one, you’ll need to purchase the router separately. This modem claims nearly five stars. Notable Features: Like the Netgear AC1750, the Motorola modem relies on DOCSIS 3.0 to boost speeds and secure connections. Its streamlined, aesthetic shape looks great and helps it stay cool. It comes with a two-year product warranty, as well as a lightning and power surge protector.   If you followed this guide for how to self-install AT&T Internet, you and your devices should now be surfing the internet seamlessly. But if you run into any problems, send up a flare via a phone call and an AT&T technician will soon arrive to rescue the modem and your internet connection.  
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About the Author

Erin is a freelance writer based in Austin, Texas. She has over ten years of experience, with a background in marketing and creative writing

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